On Tuesday July 10th 2018 Airbus debuted their Airbus A220-100 and A220-300, formerly known as the Bombardier C series CS100 and CS300 respectively, at a ceremony held at the company’s Henri-Ziegler Delivery Centre, near Toulouse in France. Today both of the jets are being built at the Bombardier-Airbus facility in Quebec, Canada.
These aren’t really new jets. The 100 to 133 seat CS100 was type-certified in December of 2015 and has been in service since July of 2016. The 130 to 160 seat CS300 was type-certified in July of 2016 and entered service in December of 2016. Both aircraft have been well received by crews and passengers, but it took some time to get them off the ground. A total of 402 C Series jets have been ordered so far.
The Bombardier C Series program began in 2004. The initial $2 billion estimate for development cost of the aircraft turned out to be less than one third of the eventual program costs. Sales were slow even though the CS100 and CS300 were more economical than other aircraft in their classes. Delta airlines ordered 75 CS100s but Boeing went to the US Department of Commerce and filed a trade complaint against the deal. Tariffs of nearly 300% put the future of the C Series in jeopardy.
When Airbus agreed to acquire a 50.01% share of the C Series program and to build a second production line in Alabama to open in 2020, the tariffs were lifted. Now that Airbus has added their branding to the jets and they are touting their fuel efficiency, long range, high degree of parts commonality between the two variants, and quick turnaround times, many in the industry believe it is now only a matter of time before sales of the A220-100 and A220-300 truly take off.
With the recent announcement that Boeing and Embraer have entered a joint venture to operate Embraer’s commercial division with 80% held by Boeing and 20% held by Embraer, today’s announcement is fortuitously timed. With the Farnborough International Airshow 2018 right around the corner, Airbus no doubt wants to sign (and announce) as many orders for the A220 series as possible.
Airbus commentary at today’s event:
“Everyone at Airbus has been looking forward to this historic moment. Today, we are thrilled to welcome the A220 to the Airbus family and are honored to see it wearing its new Airbus colors for the first time,” said Guillaume Faury, Airbus President Commercial Aircraft. “I pay tribute to all the women and men at Bombardier and the supply chain who have strived over the past years to bring this fantastic aircraft to the world. The A220 now enters a new phase in its career with all Airbus’ resources behind it to further its commercial success worldwide.”
Eric Schulz, Airbus Chief Commercial Officer, added: “We are enthusiastic about selling the A220 thanks in particular to its technology which gives it a decisive edge in a very competitive market. I have received a lot of positive feedback from customers regarding the aircraft’s outstanding passenger experience, its lower fuel burn, lower weight and quieter engines. All these reasons contribute to my optimism that Airbus will support to make the A220 a great commercial success.”